(Bloomberg View) -- For months, China has been asking U.S. technology companies to share proprietary information, ostensibly for security purposes. With the implicit threat of reduced market access in the air, IBM has complied, allowing officials to examine its source code and setting a dangerous precedent.

IBM may preserve some sales in the short term. But at what cost? IBM’s source code contains the secrets to its software -- and its success. By revealing that vital know-how to China’s government, which also owns most of the country’s biggest companies, IBM is potentially aiding its rivals and undercutting its own competitiveness.

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